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Sakka Suttaṃ

(A.v.83)

To the Sakyans on the Uposatha

46. At one time the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sakyans at Kapilavatthu, in Nigrodha’s monastery. Then many Sakyan lay disciples approached the Blessed One on the Uposatha day; having approached, they paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down at one side. As the Sakyan lay disciples were sitting at one side the Blessed One said to them: “Do you, Sakyans, observe the Uposatha ¹ with eight factors?”

“Sometimes we observe the Uposatha with eight factors, venerable sir, sometimes we do not.”

“It is a loss for you, Sakyans, a misfortune for you when life is at risk of grief and death that you observe the Uposatha with eight factors sometimes, and sometimes do not.

“What do you think, Sakyans? If a man here could earn half a kahāpaṇa without doing anything unwholesome, for a day’s work? [84]  Would that be enough to call him a skilful and industrious man?”

“Indeed it would, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Sakyans? If a man here could earn a kahāpaṇa, without doing anything unwholesome, for a day’s work? Would that be enough to call him a skilful (dakkho) and industrious (uṭṭhānasampanno) man?”

“Indeed it would, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Sakyans? If a man here could earn two … three … four … five … six … seven … eight … nine … ten … twenty … thirty … forty … fifty … a hundred kahāpaṇas, without doing anything unwholesome, for a day’s work? Would that be enough to call him a skilful and industrious man?”

“Indeed it would, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Sakyans? If this man earned a hundred or a thousand kahāpaṇas daily and saved whatever he earned, living for a hundred years, would he acquire a great heap of wealth?”

“Indeed he would, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Sakyans? Would that man due to his wealth, by reason of his wealth, because of his wealth, be able to abide enjoying supreme happiness for a single night or day?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir. For what reason? Sensual pleasures, venerable sir, are impermanent, empty, false, and deceptive.”

“However, Sakyans, herein my disciples who abide heedful, diligent, and resolute for ten years practising as exhorted by me might dwell experiencing supreme happiness for a hundred years, for ten thousand years, for a hundred thousand years, will surely become a once-returner or a non-returner, or at least a stream-winner. Let alone ten years, Sakyans, herein my disciples who abide heedful, diligent, and resolute for nine years … eight years … seven years … six years … five years … four years … three years … two years … my disciples who abide heedful, diligent, and resolute for one year practising as exhorted by me might dwell experiencing supreme happiness for a hundred years, for ten thousand years, [85] for a hundred thousand years,³ will surely become a once-returner or a non-returner, or at least a stream-winner. “

“Let alone one year, Sakyans, herein my disciples who abide heedful, diligent, and resolute for ten months … nine months … eight months … seven months … six months … five months … four months … three months … two months … one month … half a month practising as exhorted by me might dwell experiencing supreme happiness for a hundred years, for ten thousand years, for a hundred thousand years, will surely become a once-returner or a non-returner, or at least a stream-winner.

“Let alone half a month, Sakyans, herein my disciples who abide heedful, diligent, and resolute for ten days ⁴ … nine days … eight days … seven days [86] … six days … five days … four days … three days … two days … one day … half a month practising as exhorted by me might dwell experiencing supreme happiness for a hundred years, for ten thousand years, for a hundred thousand years, will surely become a once-returner or a non-returner, or at least a stream-winner.

“It is a loss for you, Sakyans, a misfortune for you when life is at risk of grief and death that you observe the Uposatha with eight factors sometimes, and sometimes do not.”

“From today onwards, venerable sir, we will observe the Uposatha with eight factors [regularly].”

Notes

1. The Uposatha is the Buddhist holy day observed on 1st, 8th, 15th, and 23rd nights of the lunar month. The eight-factors are the eight precepts.

2. A kahāpaṇa was a significant amount of money. Half a kahāpaṇa seems to be adequate for a day’s labour. See my calculations in footnote 37 of A Discourse on the Brahmavihāra Dhamma.

3. Here, Bhikkhu Bodhi adds “ten million years (satampi vassasatasahassāni)” according to his notes, but no variant reading is given in the CST4 Pali text, which just has: “a hundred years, a hundred hundred years, a hundred thousand years (satampi vassāni satampi vassasatāni satampi vassasahassāni).” The life-spans of the various celestial realms are much longer, so I take this as just a colloquial way of saying “for a long time, for a very long time, for a very, very long time.”

4. Ten days (dasa rattindive) means for ten days and nights of continuous meditation practice, sleeping only a bare minimum, and not stopping for meal breaks. A meditator should cultivate mindfulness throughout the entire day while observing the eight precepts.